Losing Libraries, Saving LibrariesA national snapshot of cuts and advocacy responses By Rebecca Miller Aug 15, 2010
|MAPPING THE IMPACT The dynamic site maps the different types of cuts nationwide and brings together local responses as a resource|
Sometimes we have to know what is at risk before we can engage in saving it. This summer, as public libraries continued to get budget hit after budget hit across the country, several readers asked for a comprehensive picture of the ravages of the recession on library service. Cindy Orr, a Cleveland librarian and editor of LJ's Collection Development series, sent along a link to Paper Cuts, a website that documents the jobs lost at newspapers, and urged us toward gathering a similar national picture of cuts to libraries. In partnership with 2010 Movers & Shakers Laura Solomon and Mandy Knapp, Ohio librarians who bought the Losing Libraries domain name, LJ launched LosingLibraries.org.
The site maps the variety of cuts across the country from the start of the downturn in 2008 onward. It also gathers information on the numerous advocacy efforts waged against threats to funding. As it is populated with information from across the country, the Losing Libraries resource will inform a national view of the budgetary tug of war that is currently twisting this critical institution in its grasp.
LJ believes that libraries are more critical than ever, and currently at risk as never before. This Catch 22 has devastating potential to impact our communities large and small. Libraries are essential to our democracy, to quote Barbara Fister, in “our opposition to censorship, our defense of privacy as a condition of intellectual freedom, our support of sharing as a fundamental process of scholarly in quiry, and our underlying belief that access to information should not be predicated on an individual's ability to pay" (from "Ebooks and the Retailization of Research").
When these things are at risk, all we value is at risk. Losinglibraries.org is one step toward their protection. Please help us tell the story of what we are losing and how we are saving it today at www.losinglibraries.org.
Rebecca Miller is Executive Editor, Features, LJ